The Quest for Mountain Mahogany: Part 2

Mountain Mahogany

Mountain Mahogany

With my recent interest in making uilleann bagpipes, I have become aware of the importance of rainforest wood conservation.  I have been searching for a North American wood that is a suitable alternative to woods like ebony, cocobolo and lignum vitae.  In my research, I determined the wood I seek must be very dense, suitable for turning, and in such abundance where harvesting would have a negligible impact.  Mountain mahogany interests me greatly because the density is very comparable to ebony, has a wonderful color and figure, turns well, and is an abundant shrub.

The aim of my research is to find specific locations where the shrub could be found of sufficient diameters for my purpose.  Failing this, I hope to find a commercial source, but usually these options wind up being a little pricey.  I have made phone calls to Forest Service offices and the Bureau of Land Management in Wyoming, and was able to determine a few areas to look.  I spoke with a field officer at the BLM Field Office in Casper, WY, and had a very nice conversation.  The field officer was helpful and indicated there were specific stands that she could personally show me if I ever came out in that direction, though the shrubs were small and may or may not suit my purposes, but she hasn’t personally measured them.

Regarding specific locations, I am redacting the information discussed to avoid the potential problem of people going out into the countryside and harvesting this shrub which is critical to the survival of deer, elk and other fauna in the area.  It literally is the number one food source for these animals during the winter months.  My hope is to find stuff that requires management, such as the mahogany that is burned in control burns to avoid problems of forest fires, or “high line” situations such as described by this biologist:

I am publishing specific locations in a private entry for my own documentation.

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  1. Ted Anderson

     /  March 1, 2017

    I have a friend cutting MM in Oregon for pipemakers. He has found some 30 ft. tall trees of it. The all-heart billets get ebony prices but billets with some sapwood are much less in price.


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